I get it. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends for far too long. You dread going into work, you can’t stand the sight of your coworkers, and a pit of anxiety flares up every time you get an email from your boss. I get it. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends for far too long. You dread going into work, you can’t stand the sight of your coworkers, and a pit of anxiety flares up every time you get an email from your boss.
You have had enough. ENOUGH.
You have looked at some jobs online, and find some that look better than your current opportunity. Some actually get you excited. On one hand you want to quickly take another job to avoid the lapse in pay and have a legitimate reason to get out. On the other hand, you know that you’re so far off your path that picking something marginally better is only a temporary solution to a much larger problem.
Should you quit your current job before finding another? The reality is that whether you are currently employed while job searching or not, the pressures to find new work are vastly different and will absolutely affect your decision making ability. The place where you are at in your life, both financially and in terms of professionally, will help to make this decision more clear.
Here are 4 key questions to ask yourself before making any decisions:
1. Why do I want to leave my current job? I’m sure you know all the surface level reasons – pay sucks, manager is a condescending ass, zero work life balance – but I’m talking about the deeper, values-level reasons. Do you like the line of work you’re in? What do you think about the industry as a whole? Do you respect your company? What about other companies in the industry? What about any company, period? Is it that the money just isn’t good enough? Is there a number you have in your head for a value that would make it worth it?
Knowing exactly why you want to leave your current job will help to make sure you don’t end up in another job that you hate.
2. What do I really want to do? Exciting thought, right? Get as imaginative as you can, to start. What do you really want to spend your time doing? I’m not saying to start trying to find your dream job tomorrow, if that feels overwhelming. But allow yourself to get a little excited at what the possibilities could be. Start small, and make a list of how it would feel to be in your dream job. Does it feel free? Inspiring? Full? Connected? Try to find at least ten ‘feeling’ words that describe what your new job would be like.
Then ask yourself, what baby steps can you take in the right direction? For example, maybe you work in an office and hate the repressive environment. What you really want to do is to be self-employed, running a consulting business where you are in control of your creative ability and time. Maybe you can’t jump into self employment tomorrow, but you could look for a job in consulting. You could look for a job that gives you more flexibility with your time, like sales for example. Sometimes all you really need are those small changes in the right direction to start feeling better about your career and life.
3. How much money do I actually need to comfortably survive? Get real. How much money do you actually need to sustain your lifestyle? Where can you cut back on your current lifestyle so that it’s less expensive? As somebody who is very financially conservative, I would never never ever suggest leaving your current job if you are not in a financial position to do so. Not because I’m necessarily ‘debt-averse’, but here’s what happens:
You get excited about the possibility of your dream job. You get into a good space mentally, you’re ready for good things, you clear your mind, you’re feeling good. You decide to quit without having a new job. After a couple weeks, temporary poverty sets in. You see money going out and no money coming in. You start to panic, and the time off you took to ‘reset’ your mind has turned into a frantic job hunt, cause you have to pay for wifi in order to search for jobs, dammit. You get desperate, and take a job that pays okay for the time being. It takes up all your time, you hate it, the pay isn’t worth it, and you’re in the same place you were before you left your last job.
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.
Figure out how much you need to survive, add 25% as a buffer, and don’t quit without another job until you have that saved up.
4. Can I work part time while searching? A great way to free up some mind space is to find part time work, especially if you’re used to working 60+ hours a week and are just so burned out. Do you have any specific useful skills? Can you possibly do some consulting work on the side? If not, can you find something relevant to your field that, while it might not pay well initially, will help you develop the skills you need to get better at your ideal job?
Especially if you have been working for several years now, you don’t have to go back to square one. Start contacting your references on LinkedIn and let them know that you are venturing into independent consulting, and let them know about the focus area you would be an expert in. You never know where those feelers might take you!
Also, check out websites that focus on finding temporary, contract, or part time work. Some of the more reputable ones are flexjobs.com and prokanga.com.
5. How much searching can I get done at my current job without jeopardizing my potential references? Those of you who know me know that I’m a big fan of multitasking once you’re officially fed up with your existing job. If you’re going to quit anyway, try dialing back on your current responsibilities and seeing what you can accomplish either after work, or at your current job. Can you update your resume? Can you be on LinkedIn? Can you invest in a privacy screen so that other people aren’t creeping on your screen? My advice is to get as much work done as you can when you’re still employed, to avoid the ‘temporary poverty’ freakout situation mentioned above.
6. How fried is my body / mind / soul, really? Keeping your body, mind and soul in good condition is critical in order to make sure we make decisions that honor us as individuals. When you’re crazy stressed out, you just can’t think straight. When you’re eating crappy food and not taking care of yourself, your mind is constantly focused on your physical unfitness. If you’re constantly feeling anxious, frazzled, depressed, if you’re crying a lot or unable to get a good night’s sleep, it’s a lot harder to make conscious decisions about which step to take in your life or career.
If you’re feeling like you’re unable to make clear headed decisions, and have the financial ability to take some time off – do it. Do it with a plan for how you’re going to get better – yoga, meditation, drinking water, eating right, know how many hours a day you’re going to search for jobs, try some exploratory exercises to see what you really want. Make use of your time off to better yourself, and you can finally start to feel better. Once the pressure is off, you will be able to make better decisions.
If you’re feeling like you’re unable to make clear headed decisions, and do NOT have the financial ability to take time off yet, make a clear plan to get there. Start applying for part time work today. Start a simple meditation practice. Start drinking more water. Use this current job as an opportunity to flex your “not giving a f*ck” muscles. Get real about setting boundaries, defining values, learn how to say NO and mean it, without guilt! If you have nothing to lose at this job, it’s probably you get fired and get severance than to quit with nothing.
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